Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jesus role models citing scripture or not

Friends, this will probably sound a little critical, but do not take it to heart, as I am not criticizing scripture citers, and in fact I enjoy very much even the free wheeling citing that takes place on Twitter. I am, however, going to finally address two errors that many make in citing scripture.

1. Many err by approaching friends (or foes) and cutting loose with their opening statements as scripture citations. Instead of being person-person and then citing scripture as the conversation develops IF NECESSARY, scripture is used as the "opening salvo" as if a war or prosecution weapon. That is Satan's role modeling, not Christ's (Matthew 4:1-10).

2. Many think that you cite scripture first, then "understanding" will follow. It is the other way around. You must understand God before you cite scripture, and that means the entire context. You do not fire, aim, ready with scripture, you ready (understand), aim (discern appropriateness) then fire (cite). Rev. Billy Graham in his daily question column is an excellent role model for the correct order, by the way.

But above all, look to Jesus and how he spoke so you can understand what I mean, and you can follow his scriptural direction with worthiness. Let's go to the positive example of his Sermon in Matthew 5, before analyzing the negative example by Satan as I pointed out to you in Matthew 4.

Matthew 5
1. And seeing the crowds, he went up the mountain. And when he was seated, his disciples came to him. 2. And opening his mouth he taught them, saying,

[Notice that Jesus is on the mountain, seated, and surrounded by disciples. These are three postures of authority, understanding and discernment. Previously in Jesus' life as documented in the Gospels, you realize that he has authority from God, is in communion with God and thus receiving direction and understanding, and he has assumed the teaching role, thus demonstrating discernment. You must likewise develop your own understanding and discernment before you put yourself on a mountain, be seated, surround yourself with disciples, and then even open your mouth!]

3. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

[Does Jesus "cite scripture here?" No.]

4. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth."

[Does Jesus wow them with citing scripture? No.]

5. "Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

[Does Jesus finally whip out all that scripture to cite yet? No.]

6. "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied."

[Still waiting for the scroll & verse?]

7. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

[Hey! I'm not gonna listen anymore cuz Jesus doesn't say where God says that in the Bible."]

8. "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God."

["That Jesus sure gonna be in trouble if he doesn't provide us with where God defines in the scripture what "clean of heart" means, sheesh!"]

9. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."

["I thought God didn't have children? Where's that in the scripture?]

10. "Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

[Hey! "Where's that listed in the redeemable rewards index in the Bible???!!!?"]

11. "Blessed are you when men reproach you, and persecute you, and speaking falsely, say all manner of evil against you, for my sake. 12. Rejoice and exult, because your reward is great in heaven; for so did they persecute the prophets who were before you.

[Wow, Jesus will surely be in trouble now because he then goes on to teach that disciples are compared to salt and light in the world, without listing by citing in scripture exactly which prophets were persecuted!!!! Goodness, why isn't that Jesus Christ citing scripture!!!]

By the way, Jesus could have cited scripture from Psalms for Matthew:4, Isaiah for Matthew 5:5, and again Psalms for Matthew 5:8. Early Church scholars spent a lot of time analyzing Old Testament scripture to identify and footnote the New Testament to identify scripture that Jesus would have been well aware of.

Now, let's look at the negative example, of what I am teaching you about today, Matthew 4.

Matthew 4
1. Then Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit, to be tempted by the devil. 2. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

[Many people jump right to the dialogue between Satan and Jesus, and miss the huge point that Jesus was fasting, and thus in contemplative prayer, for forty days before they spoke! Again, you must understand that the point is not that "Jesus was sure real hungry" but that Jesus spent forty days of spiritual preparation before opening his mouth and citing scripture!]

3. And the tempter came and said to him, "If thou art the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread."

[Satan opens the conversation and you might say, "Hey, he's not starting with scripture." That is true but he is referring to Jesus being the Messiah, promised throughout the Old Testament! So Satan is starting the scripture based accusing first. This is the mistake that SO MANY supposedly pious Christians make today; they walk up to someone and immediately accuse or assume based on scripture, without even asking as much as "Could you explain to me what you are doing and why?"]

4. But he answered and said, "It is written, Not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God."

[Notice two things. Jesus, knowing that Satan is correctly accusing him of being the promised Messiah, does not even bother to confirm that via scripture. Jesus does not dignify the "IF" that Satan starts the accusation with, by confirming the truth of that accusation, that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus addresses the temptation with scripture, knowing full well the thoughts of Satan, who is going to engage in dueling scripture with him, and who started it by alluding to Jesus "if" being the Son of God, the promised Messiah. Secondly notice that Jesus paraphrases the scripture, not getting hung up in citing every single word in the 'original' order nor citing the book and verse.]


In Matthew 4:5-7 they again duel in scripture, with Satan citing first. In Matthew 4:8-10 Satan does not cite or allude to scripture at all (except to imply that he is the fallen prince who is able to supply all worldly things to Jesus) and instead, directly tempts, which Jesus replies to with scripture, and Satan departs.

Jesus' authority is once again confirmed as being from God the Most High and Holy in Matthew 4:11 where "behold, angels came and ministered to him." Angels did not have to "help Jesus out" by sending him "spiritual guide messages" to "tell him what to say to Satan." This is another delusion of modern people, even those who seem to be good Christians, that there is "coaching" going on from heaven. There is not and that is a total misunderstanding of being infused with the Holy Spirit.

To remain, however, with my main point. Study how many times Jesus could have cited scripture, and did not. Further, study how perfectly appropriate Jesus is when he does choose to cite scripture, and how he does it with patience and never as a rebuke with people.

With some people, many, actually, *sigh with sadness,* about all the scripture one hears from a human is when they are rebuking or trying to shame or embarrass another person. Where's that in the Gospel? Where does Jesus role model that?

When you go up to someone and immediately spout a Ten Commandment to someone, or some other scripture in order to discomfort them, all you do is copy the enemy, Satan, not Jesus. You further yourself, and probably the person you are speaking to, from the Kingdom of God, not drawing closer, through love and plain ordinary truthful every day speech, as you would use if you were really following Jesus. You rely on the scripture for your own understanding and discernment, you don't use it as your opening salvo, as the punches you exchange in the ring. You don't hope for that "killer scripture" that will "sucker punch" your "opponent." How much farther from Jesus could you be with that? Any farther would take you into the dangerous realm of not being a genuine believer, but an agenda driven utilizer of script.

Again, do not be alarmed about sharing favorite scripture, such as on Twitter, or in conversation. Be warned, though, that if you are using scripture to fire sniper bullets, you are going to hit yourself with them.

I hope that you have found this helpful.